Cruise vacations are often some of the most exciting and affordable vacations you can take as a family. Whether exploring exotic ports or just enjoying being on the ship, you will have plenty of opportunities to make memories that will last a lifetime. Of course, like any vacation, you need to plan your itinerary each day with your kids in mind in order to guarantee that your whole family has a good time. Here are some important tips for cruising with your kids.
Book With Kids in Mind
Not every cabin, cruise ship, or even cruise line will be equally kid-friendly. You need to realize that cruising with children is very different from going alone and alter your expectations accordingly. Certain companies, like Disney Cruise Line, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean, make efforts to cater to families in all aspects of cruising, but you need to make sure that the specific sailing you are considering is appropriate. Use extra caution when booking your cabin. Younger children can be injured or even killed by falling off a ship’s balcony, so you might want to avoid verandah rooms until you know your kids are old enough to be responsible.
Plan Your Cruise as a Family
The concept of spending several days on a ship is going to be more than a little foreign to children who have never cruised before. Get your kids excited by involving them in every phase of planning. From discussing the sorts of activities available onboard to choosing your excursions in each port, your little ones will love feeling like they have some say in your vacation plans.
Prepare Your Little Ones
From traveling to the port and boarding the ship to the days at sea and those in port, it’s best to prepare your kids for everything they will face on the cruise. Cruising sometimes involves a lot of “hurry up and wait,” so you need to get your children ready for the fact that there may be spans of hours during which they need to entertain themselves. You should also make sure to talk cruise safety in advance. Cover rules like “no running on the ship,” and make sure your family pays attention during muster drills.
Make Schedules (but Don’t Be Afraid to Break Them)
Most children are used to going through routines on a daily basis, so they can easily be thrown off by several days that are unplanned. Instead, you should try to set schedules for what you plan to do each day–both on the ship and when visiting ports. Of course, cruising also requires a certain level of flexibility, so you (and your kids) need to be prepared for plans to change at a moment’s notice. Rather than making a big deal out of a sudden hiccup in the schedule, try to go with the flow, and your youngsters should follow suit.
Choose Excursions Wisely
Port excursions tend to be pretty expensive, so the last thing you want to have happen is for your child to have a meltdown halfway through. Remember to keep your kids in mind when choosing your excursions. Be aware that some adventures might sound exciting to you but be terrifying to your child. You should prep your little ones about everything to expect during each excursion you choose to do so that they don’t get taken by surprise. Remember, too, that you don’t need to do an excursion in every port. You can often find plenty of family-friendly activities just walking around the towns you visit or sitting on the beach. Many families even prefer to stay on the ship rather than disembarking.
Spend Some Time Apart
Several of the cruise lines that cater specifically to families offer activities that are tailored to kids only. Don’t be afraid to make use of these services, which can give your youngsters an opportunity to be around people their own age and give you some much-needed alone time. Take advantage of the chance to finally have a romantic dinner with your spouse or enjoy a couple’s massage at the spa while your little ones are having fun attending one of the children’s programs. Spending a little time apart will make the time you spend together as a family even more special.